How to Make a Built in Bookcase
November 14, 2016
Built-ins give a richness to a room, both residential and commercial. Here is a foolproof way of creating a unique bookcase with a display shelf inspired by retail millwork.
Like with everything I build, I started with a Sketch-Up model. The model helped me break down the steps and calculate the amount of material I would need.
Because of the tight tolerance between the two walls, I built this in sections for assembly later. The order was important to insure I had full support for each shelf, as they would be holding a lot of weight.
3/4 inch cabinet grade plywood was used for the sides and shelves and 1/2 inch ply for the back. Each shelf was doubled-up for added strength.
The sides, which will support the shelves on each end were doubled-up using strips of plywood that would be hidden against the wall.
By stacking the assembly, I get tight seams and wiggle room within the structure to adjust to each wall. The final trim will cover any gaps.
All the pieces were carefully measured and cut. The angled brackets will help support the display shelf in the center.
Time for paint. Each piece was sprayed with a black satin finish. This allows for the wood grain to show through and have the effect of a stain. When dry, they were knocked down with steel wool and then oiled.
Starting at the base, each piece was stacked and screwed in place. The back panels will provide support for the next shelf.
Shims were used to keep each section plumb and level. Even in a new house, walls and floors are not always perfect.
The display shelf was next. The interior supports were screwed into studs and the display panel was attached with nails to each angled support.
Trim was added at the base of the display shelf to keep the bottom of each book at a right angle to the slope of the shelf. Then the next shelf was placed on top.
Once all the selves were in place, the face frame trim was added to cover the edge of the plywood and also hide any gaps and shims.
In the end I chose to leave the top and bottom open. Nail holes were filled and touched up with paint. Another pass with steel wool helped to unify the finish. Finally time for the books.